First generation (First Gen) students—those who do not have a parent or guardian who attained a four-year degree—represent a third of all college students in the United States. At the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass), a quarter of the undergraduate student body is First Gen. Nationally as well as locally, First Gen students often experience lower rates of academic success due to factors such as a lack of family familiarity with the college going process, lower levels of academic preparation, and limited finances.
UMass Amherst is undertaking efforts to improve conditions for success for First Gen students. As part of a steering committee on First Gen issues, the Center for Student Success Research (CSSR) led a mixed methods study of First Gen students on campus during the 2018-2019 academic year. The aim of the study is to better understand who First Gen students at UMass are, the experiences they are having, and how to better serve them.
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